Saturday, May 16, 2009

A little something I wrote

I haven't written a poem in months, perhaps a year, but this came last night to me after reading a poem by Gloria Anzaldúa entitled "El sonavabitche." Fantastic poem and intriguing poet, by the way. Google her.

Anyway, that said I'm laying this out for you guys. Please be respectful. None of this "Oh that doesn't really happen." I don't mind constructive criticism, just don't be an dismissive ass. That's all I really care about. Also know I remain faithful to no form of poetry, so comments regarding to meter or rhyme will be ignored. Rhythm, progression and structure (to a degree), however, are important to me. I also have issues with changing tenses. Blogger also won't allow me to create the layout of the poem I want with indentations and the like (help?)

Also know I'm one of those perpetual editors. I don't consider this done but I feel it's good enough to publish.

Hope you like it.

PS: I don't plan on writing too much more about the church (I have to give myself some leeway). It's been fantastic these last few weeks giving it so little thought. This is not to say I've been divinely censured or I'm suddenly a fawning fan. I'm just not interested in getting myself riled up these days. It's given me peace and I've waited a long time for even a taste of it. I'm also seriously considering starting up a writing blog. Now that the semester is almost done and we're moving into a new house (and won't be able to renovate for at least a year), I'll have time to truly focus on my writing.

Oh--That reminds me. I've been published in print. You don't have to buy the book (I get no royalties anyway), but if you're interested please check it out on Writer's Bump. It's entitled "Trapped" and it's for anyone who has ever felt the need to be someone they aren't. Writer's Bump found me on Writing.Com (one of the Writer's Digest Top 100 writing sites) where I'm a preferred author.


For those who have emailed me or otherwise commented that my words on this blog echo their thoughts, I invite them to New Order Mormon.

Then again there's always StayLDS. I know The Faithful Dissident enjoys it very much. That site is for those who struggle with some doubts and dissensions but who want to remain faithful. The previous site mentioned deals with people who don't want to StayLDS necessarily. Those have a beef or three with the Church, but they stay for whatever reason (family, friends, spouse, tradition, confused, etc)

So the content of this blog may change. May be random. The politics will stay (the GOP gives me far too much fodder) but I hope you'll stick around. I've really enjoyed your company.

* * *

The Golden Convert
[Edited 5/20/09]

I may as well have come from my mama,
They said,
In an ankle length skirt and modest top,
Scriptures tucked under arm,
Chin high to heaven
To be led in the direction the Lord wants me to be:

The One and Only True Church of God on Earth.

The confirmation had come:
“This is where you need to be.”
“You're ready,”
They said

And I was

Eighteen and
enamored with her;

Eighteen and
Foaming for Independence;

So I went along
New friends and pats on the back,
Encouraged me along the way.

They told me
I am Golden,
I am Choice,
I once lived among the Noble and the Great.
I am Sarah.
I am Rachel.

But my lips never fully formed around
I Know This Church is True.

Yet I sacrificed
To cut the cord.
Because it feels good
To belong,
To be Right;
Feels good
For God to be indebted
To my obedience.

And so my god-in-the-making and I
Gritted our teeth.
Wrapped ourselves with spiritual dynamite
Ready to blow if we blew it,
We waited for marriage,
Too afraid
To disappoint.

We tried, we tried, we tried,
Sacrificing ten percent
of Everything,
And then some:
Our Time, Talents, and Everything with which the Lord has blessed us
--or will bless us
Each other
Our kids
We tried.

With one piercing in each ear,
We hung the Temple on the Mantle,
Repented for keeping one too many pennies,
Donned knee length garments
To cover sex
An expression of
The sting of peculiarity
For a God with no respect
Of Persons.

But more Alice Kramden than Donna Reed,
My Mustard Seed Faith suffered
Beneath a black thumb.

Now the kind faces of family and friends I love
Are watchful.
They are careful to avoid
Every Appearance of Evil
(Just like Jesus did)
As they whisper and lament
Of a soul
They know not.

So I sit in the closet reading of the
unholy, and
impure practices of oral sex,
Of a man and his fourteen year old brides,
Of the calls for death on the spot for
The White Man
who thrusts himself into a willing Black Woman.
Of choosing death over fornication,
Of the fear of Africans and Women and Homosexuals
Plunging the world straight to hell.
(I’m still waiting)
I learn of the imploring against
“petting,” and men working the little factory
in its off hours
To keep the Vessel of God
Pure and clean.

But, President:
I don't have wet dreams
Like you do.

As two men, worthiness of me decide
Recommend me
To be Eve, who
Veils herself when asked,
Gives him her New Name,
Covers herself, ashamed--
And Promises
To keep these pearls before unworthy swine,
Because The Church Will Not Be Mocked;
To Hearken unto Adam
as He Hearkens unto God.

But President,
I am not Eve,
And I did not marry Adam.
Don't you remember?

Master, the Tempest is Raging,
And my prayers have lead me here.
Is it well,
Or does God ignore pleas
And toy with a shattered heart?

The solemn reply campaigns,
“Question not. Follow the Prophet’s refrain
For he will never lead you astray,
Listen to his words and obey.
Hearken not to thine own understanding,
Listen to his words and obey.
Submit and forget thyself,
Do not delay.
Listen to his words and obey."


Shadows said...

Here was a good poem well worth my time. I like it. I like it a lot. Very "telling" of your hardships. I'm glad you are now finally free.

T.J. Shelby said...

All I can say is "wow" and empathize with the emotion conveyed.

Grégoire said...

My daughter and I had a conversation about what goes on in the temple last month. We read the oath to take revenge for the death of the prophets by overthrowing the US Government and killing the enemies of the Mormons. We then moved on to the rape-before-marriage (or in the case of men, molestation before marriage) which was called washing and anointing.

Talking to her was like talking to an outsider. It must have been similar for you to learn this *meat* as you went along, after your baptism. Yuck.

One minor thing: Mormons are a nation/ethnic group as much as a religion. I think it's important to realize that Mormons have yet to reach a certain stage in their historical development which Protestants and Catholics passed long ago. Many observant Mormons will sympathize with your observations, but few will say so openly. It's only a matter of time.

Lisa said...

Shadows and TJ: Thank you :) Though "free" isn't a word I'd use, though I understand why and how you mean it. Just at peace. I hope it stays.

Greg: I'm not sure I follow the first part of your comment. I've read about previous endowment ceremony/initatories, etc, but I haven't heard of anything regarding the government or anything like that. Just disembowling (eek) oneself as punishment and a bit of changes to the movie/play at large concerning the sectarian preacher. This is all very recent, however, and doesn't play too much into my disaffection. It is interesting though.

As far as the washing and anointing, I remember heaving a sigh of relief to hear it wouldn't concern nakedness any longer. I wasn't going back to do the W&A with that involved. It wasn't very modest, to say the least, and it creeped me out. Just grateful the sisters were involved and not the men. Then I would agree with your "rape" reference, but as it was with other women I never felt anything to that degree. Just...weird.

So I'm scratching my head a bit.

Enlighten me?

And I've heard the same about LDS being akin to an ethnicity. I agree with that sentiment entirely.

Grégoire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Grégoire said...

Shalom Lisa,

Rape is usually defined as "penetration, however slight". Your contention that a woman can not rape another woman is curious in context. What would you call it when you're penetrated without any warning beforehand? Is it your contention that a man can not rape another man as well?

Re: the oath of vengeance...

My daughter asked me whether our family ever took this oath, given that most had been endowed in Cardston, part of Britain until WWII.

The technical answer is yes, but it was a good question.



Lisa said...

Greg: Of course a woman can rape another woman and a man another man. I thought you were speaking metaphorically. I didn't feel raped. Just uncomfortable and like something wasn't right.

If it was a guy, then hell yes I would've felt violated.

You use the word penetration. There was never any penetration during the temple ceremony, which is where my confusion remains.


Grégoire said...

my daughter and i read a mormon woman's journal entry about the washing and anointing as it occurred to her in the mid-20th century. glad they were more decorous to you. i don't blame you for not believing it. i wish i could be so skeptical.

Lisa said...

Re: Oath of Vengeance

Ah, yes. I have heard of that and read of it. Less "Pre-1990" and more Pre-1920, but part of the ceremony nonetheless, though I (and wiki and the other source that eludes me now) describe it more as a prayer that God will seek vengeance in the prophet's (notably Joseph Smith's) behalf.

Truly the only real call for violence I know of was the Blood Atonement and, depending on which version of history you choose to believe, perhaps Mountain Meadows. Blood Atonement was never carried out, though some say members did take it quite literally. There's evidence to say so.

But yeah, the endowment ceremony then involved prayer that God would avenge the prophets.

It irks me whenever anyone (Mormon, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim) prays to have God kill anyone. Just doesn't seem like a great way to spend prayer time.

Lisa said...

As for the rape occurrence (sp?) I didn't say I didn't believe, just that it didn't happen to me (nor have I heard of such a thing). That said, every time I think I've heard it all I hear something else.

I wonder why it hasn't shown up in the outer blogosphere more? You'd think the exmo sharks would pick up on this fast, though I'll admit I'm a fairly new visitor in the outer blogosphere. I've yet to hear of this and sincerely hope I don't hear of it again (but please don't take that as a declaration of intentional ignorance)

Grégoire said...

Pre-1920? We were swearing revenge at family reunions in 1982, dude. :)

I've been in the middle of writing an article on the washing and anointing ceremony for a few months. Basically it was originally meant to be a symbolic rape (and in the case of the Mormon male, a symbolic castration) before marriage, just to let the initiate know who really *owned* them. In the original form you were naked in a tub and your genitals were handled (though not permanently damaged).

In many ways it's quite similar to an old medieval tradition of giving the governor the option of sleeping with any woman he wanted in a conquered and rebellious province. Even if no sexual relations occurred, the psychological subjugation inherent in the custom was enough to impress a certain mindset into the victims.

Urban Koda said...

First of all - I like that poem - a lot!! The rhythm seemed good, and while admittedly my grasp of concepts surrounding the English language is weak at best, I thought it worked. I suspect my wife will gain much enjoyment from it later today too.

I agree about backing off from the Church discussions as well - After your post about doing just that a month or 2 back, I've tried to not dwell so much on the problems as well, and it has made a more positive difference in my outlook on life - still enjoy your insights, and will be checking into those other blogs you reference - I'm already a faithful - faithful dissident reader.

Now onto the topic at hand... The various temple ceremonies have been changed a great deal since they were first implemented, the most recent change happened just recently - although what that is, I don't know since I can't answer both the 'Sustaining leaders' and 'Honest in your dealings' questions with the right answer at the same time.

When I initially took my endowments out in '96, I recall my mother saying as a joke, that it was just one big orgy inside the temple, and I remember walking over to the temple from the place we were staying thinking... "If it is, then I would probably enjoy it, but that would mean this whole religion is a load of sh*t" Funny how sometimes jokes contain some element of truth!

I think the man who performed my W&A didn't do it the way he was supposed to, since I wasn't touched anywhere close to my manhood - but that said it still wasn't the most pleasant experience. My fathers advice was "Don't be self conscious, just concentrate on the words that are being said." Knowing now, what probably should have happened, I can understand why he said that.

The worker not doing it right was apparently a pretty common problem in the temple I went through - I for one an profoundly grateful for him choosing to do what was right, and not doing it the right way.

Good discussion - looking forward to reading more about your daughter experience with the Church, Mr Gregoire!

Lisa said...

Urban: Thank you! :D I'm glad you enjoyed it.

I have some things I may write about in the future. I won't shut the door on another critique because, honestly, we all need a place to vent sometimes.

That said, there are people (family) now exposed to my blog that I knew would be given time, but the time has come, sooo...yeah. I may have to warm up again.

Don't sweat though. I have more poems/stories to write. This poem was too much fun to work on. I also have some other things for good laughs and, let's face it, there's always good political fodder.

Greg: You'll have to forgive me for my skepticism, but..yeah I'll have to ask Eric what he remembers from his W&A. I know he breathed the same sigh of relief I did when we heard about the change (notably that we could be clothed while receiving the anointing)

I don't remember very much from mine. Just the naked thing and being covered but not really and finding quite the irony in the situation considering I was about to put on garments for the first time to, among other things, promote modesty.

After a couple of years the matrons started weirding me out as they spoke to me with that distant, almost hypnotic look in their eyes. I could never keep eye contact.

Urban Koda said...

Nothing wrong with a little venting. I think the problem comes when you start thinking about it all the time, and it starts to turn into an obsession. It's hard when it's all you've know your entire life, but then you start thinking - why am I spending so much time worried about something that should really become of little or no consequence in my life.

My family found my blog too - It was supposed to be my place to vent, so I didn't offend anyone who knew me - but alas it came to light, and I've been told that I should seek professional help, request that my name be removed from the Church records and that I am quite possibly the worst son ever to walk on God's green earth. I'm sure I need professional help - but as for the rest...

Congrats on the new house too!!

djinn said...

It seems that the original Washing and Anointing included complete nudity, physical washing (by the initate) and anointing by the temple worker, which didn't necessarily include touching. I think oil was poured over the head. So, I disagree with Gregiore. But nudity, yeah. Male-male and female-female. The link, above, shows an original room in the SL temple with a tub and a chair.